Men's Qualifying Opens 2006 World Championships

by Laura Fawcett
Stephane Lambiel
Photo by Paul Harvath

2006 Worlds News and Photos

(3/20/06) - Neither was 100 percent.

A week ago one of them was suffering such severe knee pain that he wasn't practicing and wasn't sure he would be at the 2006 World Championships in Calgary, Canada.

The other one, still affected by an illness contracted in Torino, Italy, is on three different antibiotics and talked about severe chest pains and coughing up blood.

It was an unlikely scenario that either would even be here. Instead, Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel and American Evan Lysacek are one-two after the first men's qualifying group Monday morning at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Olympic silver medalist Lambiel cruised to the lead, scoring 20 points more than second-place Lysacek. Lambiel didn't hold anything back in qualifying, hitting two quads, including one in combination with a triple toe. His only major error was a step out of a triple flip, which was supposed to be a triple-triple combination.

“I think people are asking themselves if they should do less in qualifying or if they should change things in between the qualifying and the free skating,” Lambiel said. “My psychology simply is to do the best each time, to try to give everything on the day, and then I'll rest during the night to be able to give everything again the next day.”

The strained ligament in his right knee requires medication and therapy, and Lambiel said he plans to take a break after Worlds to rest the knee. He isn't dwelling on the injury; as any athlete will tell you, the adrenaline of competing often dwarfs any pain.

“One week ago, I felt worse,” said Lambiel, who is competing for the first time in Canada. “Now I have competition in my mind, so I don't feel the knee. Maybe it's worse, but I don't feel it.”

Lysacek hasn't fully recovered from the illness that nearly forced him to withdraw from the men's competition at the Olympic Winter Games last month. He developed a bacterial infection that the doctors though might be leading to pneumonia. Although the illness hasn't allowed him to train full out, Lysacek didn't use it as an excuse for his performance, which wasn't up to his usual quality.

Instead he put the blame squarely on his quad attempt early in his program to Bizet's “Carmen.” Lysacek tumbled hard on the jump, his first attempt in international competition, and followed it up with a fall on his triple Axel and a doubled triple loop.

“I got the wind knocked out of me pretty badly,” said Lysacek, who added that the quad has been going well in practice. “I fell on my leg, and it kind of went numb on me. It affected about the next two minutes.”

Lysacek improvised parts of the program after the fall, tacking on triple toes to his triple flip and triple Lutz. That strategy, along with his high program components scores, kept him in second place with 139.70 points.

Russia's Ilia Klimkin is in third with 130.60 points. He landed seven triples and a quad toe, but he did not have any triple-triple combinations. Klimkin survived the early morning (9:30 a.m.) start time, but that doesn't mean he was happy about it.

“It's horrible, to be honest!” he said. "Apparently just the jet lag kicked in. It's the fourth day (in Canada) after all. It was hard. But basically I coped with all my difficult elements.”

China's Min Zhang earned 21 points for landing both a quad toe and quad Salchow, but five of his other elements were rated either level one or level two. The lack of difficulty left him in fourth overall with 128.42 points.

Americans Johnny Weir and Matt Savoie skate later today in the second qualifying group. The qualifying segments are multiplied by a factor of 0.25 when added on to the short program and free skate scores.

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